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What should I expect attempting to summit Mt. Rainier?

14ers in California and Washington state or any other peak in the USA
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Postby BearHamr » Mon Mar 20, 2006 8:31 pm

Thanks for all of the input from everyone.

I have asked numerous questions at RMI, and although they are polite, they seem a little put out with my questions and have the attitude that I should already know.

The total trip is running me approx. $2,000.
The only thing necessary for the truimph of evil is for good men to do nothing. - Edmund Burke

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Postby Crass3000 » Tue Mar 21, 2006 3:28 pm

I can confirm that RMI considers reaching the crater a true summit. I heard one of their guides say that when we climbed Rainier.

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Postby Layne Bracy » Tue Mar 21, 2006 5:21 pm

The guides' main concern is safety. On our trip, we had to cross a couple snowbridges on the way up. They want the group to get down quickly, before the bridges can soften up.

If the group is fast enough and conditions are good, they may allow you the trip to the true summit, like they did for us. If they have doubts, they may not allow that.

While they won't want to split the group up, perhaps you could try to get the faster clients on a single rope team at the front. Maybe they'd be willing to let the first team go for Columbia Crest as everyone else hits the rim.

If I were you, I might try to have a discussion with the head guide on day 1, letting him know it's important to you. It's probably better not to push too much though, as he will be stressing over the safety of 30 people.

Postby Bean » Tue Mar 21, 2006 10:52 pm

Layne Bracy wrote:If the group is fast enough and conditions are good, they may allow you the trip to the true summit, like they did for us. If they have doubts, they may not allow that.
Allow?

What exactly are they going to do if you make the unilateral decision to go for the summit despite their "concerns?"

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Postby TalusMonkey » Wed Mar 22, 2006 6:59 am

ROFL! I like your attitude Bean! I suppose they could report you to the NPS for hiking solo on glaciated areas above the high camps. I am sure there is some fine for that.

http://www.nps.gov/mora/climb/climb.htm#regs

I am sure they would be quite upset if someone stuck out on their own, though.

Yesterday I spoke with Joe Horisky with RMI. I have spoken with him at length previously, to get answers to my questions/concerns about their Rainier summit climb. Yesterday he assured me that as long as weather conditions are safe, the whole group spends enough time at the crater rim that those wanting to reach the true summit have the option to proceed.
"When hiking in bear country one doesn't need to be the fastest runner in the party - just not the slowest."

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Postby Steve » Wed Mar 22, 2006 7:48 am

Like on most guided climbs, you sign an agreement with RMI to abide by the decisions of the guide. To make a unilateral decision to leave the group for an hour (minimum) trip to the true summit may put the rest of the group in danger by: 1) waiting for you while inactive on the summit for an hour in the cold (I've been there...it's very cold) or 2) forcing the guides (responsible for everyone) to descend with one less person on a rope. A 2 person rope on a glacier is suboptimal and dangerous. It would also put you in grave danger. Soloing a glaciated mountain is serious business unless you are very experienced. If you need RMI, you probably aren't experienced enough to do it alone. Agreed...it would stink to stop before you get to the summit but ignoring the guides and the rest of the group is a bad idea.

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Postby Layne Bracy » Wed Mar 22, 2006 10:56 am

Bean wrote: What exactly are they going to do if you make the unilateral decision to go for the summit despite their "concerns?"


No, of course they would not physically restrain you. And, I don't know whether legally this could be a misdemeanor or result in any fines. Maybe not.

But, ethically, when you join a guided trip, you agree to follow the instructions of the guide. Steve described the reasons well. If you are not willing to do that, you should form your own party without a guide. Then you can make your own decisions.

Believe me, I understand the frustration, because for a while on our trip they told us we would only go to the rim. But, ultimately, we would certainly have obeyed if they did not allow us the summit walk.

I believe there are other guide groups now for Rainier besides RMI. Maybe they have a different approach than seeing the true summit as a bonus.

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Postby Scott P » Wed Mar 22, 2006 1:41 pm

But, ethically, when you join a guided trip, you agree to follow the instructions of the guide. Steve described the reasons well. If you are not willing to do that, you should form your own party without a guide. Then you can make your own decisions.


This is true. I went on one guided climb: Mount Elbrus. I did this because of the red ape for US citizens. Anyway, they wouldn't let us glissade down the mountian. It would have been a perfect 5500 feet descent. I was pissed, but thought I should follow the rules. Dang, I wanted to glissade instead of walking down.

Believe me, I understand the frustration, because for a while on our trip they told us we would only go to the rim. But, ultimately, we would certainly have obeyed if they did not allow us the summit walk.

I believe there are other guide groups now for Rainier besides RMI. Maybe they have a different approach than seeing the true summit as a bonus.


The problems I've heard with RMI, is that they usually don't tell someone that the crater rim is not the summit, unless someone brings it up. Personally, I think they should make it clear when people book, that they usually aren't going to try for the summmit. The place they stop is over 260 feet from the summit, not close enough to claim the summit in my book.

Other than that, I hear that it is a good company.

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Postby BearHamr » Wed Mar 22, 2006 6:19 pm

I have zereo training and experience on a glacier and WOULD NOT go by myself or against the guide.

I just hope weather and stamina hold out to make the true summit, otherwise I guess I could say I have almost been to the summit of Rainier. LOL
The only thing necessary for the truimph of evil is for good men to do nothing. - Edmund Burke

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Rainiering?

Postby michaelkostal » Thu Mar 23, 2006 1:43 pm

With all this talk about Rainier this summer, how many of you in this discussion are attempting it this summer?

I'm planning on going at the end of june with RMI but haven't booked yet.

Is there any interest in getting a few forum members on the same trip?

Who ever provided the info about the campsite thanks a ton. Any other advice to help a poor grad student save money is greatly appreciated.

Mike
Work to live don't live to work

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Postby Crass3000 » Thu Mar 23, 2006 2:23 pm

Another thing you might like to know is that at one of the buildings at Paridise they have public showers. Nothing felt better than a nice warm shower after the climb!!!

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Postby ckaptur » Thu Mar 23, 2006 3:05 pm

I climbed Rainier with RMI in June 2001. While it's true that they say getting to the crater rim "counts" as summitting, they were also quite open about the fact that the point at which the rim is first gained is not the highest point on the mountain.

The day I climbed, the weather was great. We had four rope teams, or maybe about 16 -17 people, reach the crater rim. The guides not only "allowed" those who wanted to reach the true summit to do so, they actively encouraged it. Still, only four of us took them up on the offer. The hike accross the crater is not the least bit technical. I would think that as long as conditions are reasonable, you will have little difficulty reaching the true summit.

The guides, after all, are mountaineers - they undestand that reaching the true summit is an important goal for many. That said, they also must contend with a numer of clients who substantially underestimate the task. We initially had 25 climbers in our group. Two obviously out-of-shape fellows were bounced after the Day 1 safety and acclimitization session. Another couple dropped out on the second day and 4 or 5 on the summit day. On the descent, many folks were clearly near their limits. I guess what I'm saying is that I can see why the guides may tend to be conservative. The last thing they need is an article in Outside detailing how they pushed a group too hard, too fast.

As I recall, my cost was $750. I used all my own gear, which eliminated any rental fees.

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